On the therapeutic benefits and theological lessons of gardening

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on Oct 2, 2016 at 7:53pm PDT

That is perhaps an overreaching blog post title. But Alistair recently shared this article from The Conversation on the therapeutic benefits of gardening, which I found fascinating – health, achievement, interpersonal skills, mental health, psychosocial functioning, existential purpose. You name it, gardening can benefit it.

For me gardening is also like having my own little sub-plot of a fallen world, as well as a living metaphor for sin. I can plant my plants or sow my seeds (I’ve tried growing some things from seed), and apply the water, but there are so many things beyond my control – the bug that got under the frost cloth and had a merry feast on my gardenia over winter, the fungus or mould that destroyed the silver falls, whatever it is that slowly killed the miniature roses (I think they got too wet and there was too much late coldness). Though, generally speaking, if you follow the instructions, things turn out well. It’s what the instructions are for. But then there’s the weeds! Oh, the weeds. They are very much like sin. Chickweed IS sin. Comes us everywhere. And you can’t possibly get all the tiny seedlings so you just aim for the big bits. But CS Lewis and Tim Keller and John Piper would be proud of me. To displace the chickweed, I am planting native groundcover flowers. Plants whose telos it is to be here. Plants that are the true meaning and purpose of gardens in Canberra. Leaving bare soil in a garden is like leaving your head empty for the devil to dance in. What is needed is that the soil is filled up with good and proper things. So I am ousting the weeds with native groundcovers. No more making mud pies, what I truly want is beds of flowers (and a holiday at the sea)!

Native plants also tend to thrive and have more to offer to local wildlife. They do better at serving and encouraging the good creatures around them. Make of that what you will.

(And since the miniature roses gave up the ghost I am replacing those with native everlasting daisies too. My natural resources degree has kicked in my environmental righteousness. Plus, while I particularly loved that yellow rose – I am sad about that one – roses in pots look like nothing in pots for months of the year, so I want less deciduous things.)


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